Amatlán Zapotec
(ISO code zpo)



Amatlán Zapotec is spoken in San Cristóbal Amatlán and San Francisco Logueche, two municipalities in the district of Miahuatlán in the southern mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Map of Mexico
Detail of southern Oaxaca


“Yiroos” mountain
“Yiroos” mountain

These towns are situated at 5,590 and 6,110 feet above sea level, respectively. They lie at the foot of a very tall mountain which in Zapotec is called Yiroos. Traditionally, the people consider certain areas near the top of the mountain to be sacred.


San Cristóbal Amatlán

San Cristóbal Amatlán (SCA), which was founded in 1715, has a population of 4,236, according to the census taken by INEGI in 2000. One of their main holidays is the town's patron saint on April 23-25 which is celebrated with a mass, parade, sporting events and a bull run. Other important days are the Guelaguetza, a Oaxacan fiesta celebrated July 23-25, and All Saints Day on November 1. The people of San Cristóbal mainly cultivate corn, beans, wheat and squash. The women weave palm mats and baskets, among other things. Many people go yearly to the coffee plantations in the southern mountains towards Pochutla to pick coffee. There is schooling available in the area at the kindergarten, primary, secondary, and high school levels. All the people native to the area speak Zapotec, and many are bilingual in Spanish.


Church of San Francisco Logueche, 1989

San Francisco Logueche (SFL) was founded in 1744, and according to the census taken in 2000, there are 1,868 inhabitants. They celebrate the town's saint day on October 4. They also have preschool, primary, and secondary schools.

Even though the people of these towns understand each other, there are differences in the ways they speak. Some words differ from one town to the other. For example: in San Cristóbal (SCA) they say sonido tub “one” and in San Francisco (SFL) they say tib; in SCA they say sonido nis “water”, but in SFL they say nits; in SCA they say sonido kazet me ler “she is washing clothes”, in SFL they say kazat me lar. The way in which the negative on the verb is formed is another difference. In SCA the negative is formed by combining na+verb+t; in SFL they combine verb+da. For example: in SCA they say sonido nakint na “I don't need”, but in SFL they say kinda na; in SCA they say sonido namkeet na “I didn't hit”, but in SCA they say mkeda na. Nonetheless, in SFL they can use both forms, which eases the difficulty those in either town have in understanding those from the other town.

--Sylvia Jean Riggs


Featured publications

See the publications available on this site

2011 Calendar (Birds)